LaFontaine, Bruce 1948-

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LaFontaine, Bruce 1948-

Personal

Born August 23, 1948, in Rochester, NY; children: Matthew Eric. Education: Rochester Institute of Technology, A.A.S. (communication design), 1979; State University of New York, Empire State College, B.F.A. (illustration), 1981.

Addresses

Home—Penfield, NY.

Career

Illustrator and writer. Xerox Corporation, Webster, NY, art director and technical illustrator, project manager, and buyer, 1976-83, 1987-93; freelance illustrator and writer, 1983—. Monroe County Community Education, Fairport, NY, drawing instructor, 1996-98. Military service: U.S. Air Force, 1971-74; served as staff sergeant.

Member

Society of Illustrators, National Writers Union, American Society of Aviation Artists, National Association of Art Educators, Air Force Art Collection Association, Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, Society of Technical Communications, National Cartoonists Association, Illustrators Forum of Rochester.

Awards, Honors

MVP Award, American Motorcyclist Association, 1995, for Motorcycles.

Writings

COLORING BOOKS; SELF-ILLUSTRATED

Our Solar System, World of Science/Safari, 1989.

History of Space Exploration, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1990.

Bridges of the World, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1994.

Motorcycles, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1995.

History of Trucks, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1996.

Famous Buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1997.

History of Great Inventions, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1998.

Exploring the Solar System, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1998.

History of the Sword, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1998.

The Great Steamships, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1999.

History of Classic Sports Cars, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1999.

Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1999.

Submarines and Underwater Exploration, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2000.

X-Planes: Experimental Aircraft 1940-1990, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2000.

Story of the Wright Brothers, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2000.

Tanks and Armored Vehicles, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2000.

Homes of the American Presidents Coloring Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2000.

Learning about the Solar System Activity Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2000.

Moon Exploration Fact and Fantasy, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2001.

Famous Women Aviators, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2001.

American Muscle Cars, 1960-1975, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2001.

Mars Exploration Fact and Fantasy, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2002.

Gods of Ancient Egypt, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2002.

Warriors through the Ages, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2002.

International Space Station, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2003.

Railroad Engines from around the World, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2003.

Police Cars: From Paddy Wagons to Patrol Cars, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2003.

Constellations of the Night Sky, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2003.

Paul Bunyan Coloring Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2003.

All about the Weather, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2004.

Wigwams, Longhouses, and Other Native-American Dwellings, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2004.

Classic Cars of the Fifties, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2004.

Adventures of Ulysses, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2004.

Famous Trains, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2005.

Luxury Cars, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2006.

ILLUSTRATOR

Biker Theme Rub-on Tattoos for Kids, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1995.

Chinese Dragon Rub-on Tattoos for Kids, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1996.

Solar System Sticker Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1998.

Trains Sticker Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1998.

Spacecraft Sticker Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1998.

Classic Motorcycles Sticker Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1999.

Classic Sports Cars Sticker Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 1999.

Trains Stained Glass Coloring Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2000.

Construction Trucks Sticker Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2000.

Classic Airplanes Sticker Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2000.

Classic Racing Cars Sticker Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2000.

Favorite Trucks Sticker Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2002.

Spaceships Stained Glass Coloring Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2002.

Locomotives Sticker Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2003.

Famous Trains Sticker Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2004.

Shiny Fast Cars Sticker Book, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2004.

Shiny Fire Engines Stickers, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2006.

Shiny Things That Go Stickers, Dover Publications (Mineola, NY), 2006.

Also designer and illustrator of posters.

Sidelights

The detailed ink drawings of Bruce LaFontaine are a mainstay of Dover Publications' activity and coloring-book offerings, and they have been popular with young artists since 1990. Moving to illustration following a high-pressure job as a corporate art director, LaFontaine was encouraged by a college professor to develop his writing skills to augment his talents as an artist; over thirty-five books that feature LaFontaine as both author and illustrator have been the result. Among the titles written and illustrated by LaFontaine are Bridges of the World, Wigwams, Longhouses, and Other Native-American Dwellings, Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis, and Submarines and Underwater Exploration, each of which reflect the illustrator's personal interest in science and technology.

Born in 1948, LaFontaine was influenced by many things on his path to becoming an illustrator. "I fondly remember books by Beverly Cleary and Robert Lawson, with their wonderful black-and-white ink and pencil illustrations," he recalled. "As a pre-teen and teenager, I was an avid fan of Mad magazine, comic books, and science fiction." In fact, he has adopted many of the techniques of cartoon drawing—variations in line thickness, methods of shading, simplified backgrounds—in his detailed drawings, and favored mediums include pencil, pen and ink, watercolor dyes, and colored pencil. In his studio, LaFontaine often has several projects going at once. "I usually work on the art for one book while doing the writing for another," he explained.

"I specialize in creating books about the history of science, technology, transportation, space and aviation, and architecture," LaFontaine once commented. "These are all areas that were of great interest to me as a child but seemed unrealistic to pursue because of my poor math skills (having a right-brain orientation, which of course was not understood when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s)." He structures his nonfiction texts to middle-grade readers, and makes an effort to introduce young people to new terms in the area of their interest. "My intention is to imply the meaning of a word through the context in which it's used," LaFontaine maintained, "motivating a child to either ask an adult what the word means or else look it up themselves.

"The main goal in my book work is to educate, entertain, and hopefully, inspire kids about the amazing world that they are part of," the author/illustrator noted. For this reason, one of the characteristics of LaFontaine's many books is that the subject under examination is presented as it developed throughout history, from its earliest conception, through advances in technology to its most current incarnation, whether it be a motorcycle, a stone bridge, or a sword. Motorcycles, for instance, spans the history of the motorized bicycle from the first three-wheeled powered cycle made by Gottlieb Diamler in 1895 to a 1913 V-twin engine Excelsior Auto Cycle to the modern motocross "dirt bike," while History of the Sword extends its scope over 5,000 years, covering a broad range of cultures. "I hope to give kids a sense of connection to this [development] process and its relation to the world of today. By using examples of historical events and personalities, I hope to inspire kids to believe that they are also capable of making important contributions, perhaps even great achievements, that could become part of the historical perspective."

LaFontaine considers himself fortunate that his publisher, Dover, imposes few creative constraints. "This fact, in combination with being able to work in subject areas that I have a special interest in, gives me a lot of satisfaction from my work," he noted. "I am also gratified by the opportunity to reach kids with idealism and hopefulness that may turn them in a direction that will be important and meaningful to their own lives."